Autumn Aequinoctium–Equinox Health
In honor of the Autumnal Equinox, I am honored to share with you a guest post from one of my spiritual inspirations and Yoga Gurus, Cora Wen, of YogaBloom. In addition to being one of the most bendy Yoginis I know, Cora has an addiction to doing headstands all over the world, won’t you please enable her by stopping by her blog and leaving some comment love?
Element – Metal
Colour – White
Nature – New Yin
Organs – Lung, Large Intestine
Emotion – Grief/Courage
Condition – Dry
Today is the Autumnal Equinox, which marks the official end of summer. Nights are longer and days shorter as we slide into the cooler season. “Equinox” is from the Latin Aequinoctium, meaning equal night, because day and night are of equal time, and the sun is directly over the equator.
Chinese Medicine sees Nature and its patterns, forms and seasons reflected in our bodies and emotions. Each season is associated with an element, emotion, organ, and taste. Autumn is the beginning of the yin (feminine) cycle, as daylight shortens. This is the time of harvest, of gathering and preparing for the colder, darker season of winter.
In summer, ruled by Fire, we focus externally – travelling, playing and enjoying outdoors. Autumn is the time to organize for winter, return inside and reflect on life. This is a time to seek to restore balance in the world and in ourselves.
Autumn is associated with Metal, which governs the mind and organization, order, communication, limits, and boundaries. It is a good time to finish projects and harvest the bounty of hard work. Nature’s cycle of letting go has an inward movement, returning to origin and source; the earth.
Inhalation also has inward movement, and this season is associated with Lung. Lung moves life force through the breath, as inhalation brings energy in and exhalation releases energy out. To let go, you must evaluate, Autumn is also associated with discrimination. This is the time for introspection, to get quiet and notice our own breath.
Perhaps this is time to reflect: What do I no longer need and what can I let go of?
Do I have unresolved grief that need release?
What in my mental and emotional life can die to be reborn?
Autumn provides the opportunity to release old habits and negative patterns, and to remember that through releasing and letting go we grow and evolve. Plant your seeds, nurture yourself and let go of what you don’t need…
Lung is the “tender organ” residing in the upper body, and is especially susceptible to wind and cold. It is the commander of Chi, because it is in charge of inhalation and exhalation; the movement of coming in and going out.
Lung is paired with Large Intestine, creating an energetic and symbiotic relationship that balances Yin and Yang (water-fire). Lung absorbs oxygen and energy from nature and creates energy for the body. Large Intestine absorbs and circulates food and water to cool the body.
Lungs are the body’s “skin”, allowing the process of taking in and letting go. If a person cannot “let go”, life doesn’t flow smoothly, so this is a good time to heal grief and sadness. Healthy Lungs are crucial for strong body and mind, so breathe deeply with gratitude and celebration, and pay attention to Lung health!
Breathing controls the nervous system, regulates and governs our energy and pulse. It is a bridge between body and mind and may keep the two in balance.
Lungs are formed much like the branches of a tree: each larger branch splits in two, and smaller branches split until the branches become leaves. Each leaf begins with a single vein, then splits into smaller veins, until they are individual cells exposed to air. As plants breathe in CO2 and breathe out O2, humans and animals breathe in O2 and breathe out CO2. So, trees act as the lungs of the earth
Metal is linked to boundaries, as metal expands and contracts, so does the Lung and Large Intestine. As leaves fall and nature recycles and regenerates, the power of Metal helps to efficiently release the unnecessary, and store only what is needed for Winter.
Autumn is a time of harvest, but also of loss, so Grief is associated with Metal. As leaves and the last fruit fall, the riches of decay return nutrients to earth. Without this boost and enrichment, life could not proceed and grow. This is also a time of Courage, so build up strong external Chi by staying active, especially in the upper torso and extremities.
Metal supports breathing and releases impurities…inspiration and respiration. When Metal is balanced, it is harmonious and can discern what to let go of and when. It is time to breathe deeply, slowly and easily, and pay attention to the surrounding, natural environment.
Food Suggestions: Entering cooler times, balance the body to maintain energy for winter. Eat whole grains, squashes, pumpkins, corn, root vegetables, apples, pears (especially Chinese pears Ya Li), kidney beans and tofu. Honey, cinnamon and ginger warm the internal body.
Fruit falls from a tree. It cannot hold onto the branch forever. As it falls, it gives fruit. The tree has to let the fruit fall. And there is a wound, created by this fall. The tree heals, and in Spring, blossoms arrive and become fruit.
Bend, Breathe, Bloom!
Cora Wen is an international expert on yoga therapy. She is an ERYT-500 (senior) Yoga Alliance certified instructor and is also CYT certified through the International Association of Yoga Therapists. She frequently teaches in S. Asia and Thailand as well as throughout United States. Cora is a favorite of yoga students of all levels due to the extraordinary energy and life experiences she brings to her classes. After sowing wild oats in New York City in the 70s with rockers Deborah Harry and Patti Smith, she had careers in fashion and banking. Cora assisted Erich Schiffmann and Rodney Yee extensively throughout the 90s, while working as a corporate banker. Eventually, she left banking to follow her love and passion for yoga fulltime. Cora’s expertise has arisen from over two decades of teaching and apprenticing with America’s most influential teachers. She has studied philosophy and therapeutics extensively with Judith Hanson Lasater and Patricia Walden. Cora Wen blogs at Yoga Bloom. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
- Between Earth and Sky… Late Summer Healing (touchstonez.com)
- One Good Return: Guest Writer Wrap Up (touchstonez.com)
- Transitioning into Autumn; Metal Element (cinnabaracupuncture.wordpress.com)
- September 2011 (carlsbadvillageacupuncture.wordpress.com)
- The Importance of Breathing From Deep Down in Your Diaphragm (fitsugar.com)
- Autumnal Equinox 2011: The First Day of Fall is Here (inquisitr.com)